WHEREAS, the Governor of Pennsylvania has proposed a devastating set of cuts in General Assistance for older poor Pennsylvanians;

WHEREAS, as a result of these proposed cuts, approximately 30,000 people aged 45 to 65 would be given only two months of benefits every two years, instead of their current subsistence benefits of roughly $200 per month;

WHEREAS, the proposed cuts would also provide that approximately 150,000 unemployed people between the ages of 18 and 45 will get only two months of benefits every two years instead of their current benefits of roughly $200 three months each year (approximately 35% of these people are from Philadelphia);

WHEREAS, many of these people will be completely ineligible for any benefits for two years because the cuts will be retroactive to July 1, 1993 -- and benefits that they received before the proposal was made will be counted against them;

WHEREAS, a similar cut in assistance to people aged 18 to 45 in 1980 (referred to as Thornfare) resulted in the immediate doubling of evictions, utility shut-offs and City-funded shelter placement (which doubled from 7,000 to 15,000 by 1982;

WHEREAS, proponents of Thornfare advocated that the 1980 cuts would motivate the poor to seek employment, however, only 3 percent of those who lost benefits were able to find steady work;

WHEREAS, the total General Assistance budget is a very small percent (2%) of the Commonwealth's overall budget; yet, based on past experience, these cuts would make thousands of people homeless and hungry;

WHEREAS, if the welfare benefits are cut more people will become homeless and, thus, the City will have to take care of those new homeless people adding additional burden to the City's already strained budget;

WHEREAS, the proposed welfare cuts would save money for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania by shifting the cost of caring for the poor to the City;

WHEREAS, the homeless and the poor have a limited ability to speak out and lobby against these reductions;

WHEREAS, the proposed cuts will have significant impact on the budget of the City of Philadelphia and the whole Philadelphia community, including the legal community.

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED by the Board of Governors of the Philadelphia Bar Association that the following recommendations are endorsed:

  1. That the Philadelphia Bar Association oppose the proposed welfare cuts;
  2. That the Chancellor of the Philadelphia Bar Association communicate to the Pennsylvania General Assembly and the Governor the Association's opposition to the proposed welfare cuts; and
  3. That the Chancellor is authorized to take all necessary and reasonable steps to oppose the proposed welfare cuts.

ADOPTED: April 21, 1994